Dear Loved Ones,
Who hasn't said at the beginning of almost every year, “I can't believe another one has gone by already!” Or maybe you've thought, “Wow! I'm glad that year is over!” I've felt both about 2008. Like most years, it was a year of ups and downs.
If I had to characterize 2008 using just one word, I would choose faithfulness. We saw the Lord's faithfulness last year.
We were able to settle into our apartment outside of the favela. While we were so frustrated looking at so many apartments and having our applications rejected, I see that without that process, we wouldn't have applied for the one that became our home. Even though it wasn't what I had imagined for us, it's really so perfect for our family. Looking back on that process gives me hope for the burdens that we are carrying into this year. The Lord has not forgotten us. Even though we don't always understand, the Lord is faithful. “'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). What a blessing that I was not in control of 2008 and am not in control of 2009.
With the understanding that all the fruit of our labor is from God's hand, we share with you some of the blessings that we experienced in our work last year:
* All of the children at Projeto Vidinha (WMF Brasil partner) were able to attend private school through the help of both Brasilian and North American supporters.
* WMF Brasil was able to extend a small loan to a family for the purchase of a brick home after their ply-wood house was destroyed in a storm.
* We began a small Bible study for women living on the streets.
* Jaqueline, a volunteer was able to join the WMF Brasil staff as a street educator.
* All six WMF Brasil staff (Brasilians and North Americans) were able to attend a great WMF South America staff retreat, where we came a little closer to the heart of God and were encouraged by fellow Word Made Fleshers.
* Around 50 kids and young adults heard the story of Christmas and received Christmas gifts.
* We were surrounded by a circle of amazing prayer and financial supporters who allowed themselves to be used by God and partnered with us in ministry.
We invite you to continue praying for us and supporting us in 2009. Pray for the Projeto Vidinha children's education. Pray for our women's Bible study as we seek to expand our ministry among women this year. Pray also for all of our friends (both children and families) on the streets. We long for and labor to see transformation in the lives of everyone that we know here in Rio (including us)!
We pray that you, too, would experience the Lord's faithfulness this year.
Rich & Rebecca Nichols